A lot of people object to the degree of regulation in the districts. But when I ask which regulations they don't like, it often turns out that they don't actually know what the regulations are.
So I thought it would be fun to offer a little online quiz about what actually is permitted -- and what's not -- in Greensboro's locally-designated historic districts. If you're a historic district hater, or just a skeptic, take the quiz to see how much you actually know. If you like, post your answers in the comments. (No fair peeking at the Historic District Guidelines!)
UPDATE: Answers are now posted!
GREENSBORO HISTORIC DISTRICT QUIZ
1 All of Greensboro's historic districts are regulated by the Greensboro Historic District Commission (HDC).
2 If you live in one of the locally-designated historic districts, your house colors must be approved by the HDC.
3 It is not permitted to cover original wood siding with vinyl or aluminum siding in the locally-designated historic districts.
4 New construction in the locally-designated districts must use historically appropriate materials; new products such as fiber-cement siding are not permitted.
5 New houses in the locally-designated districts must be designed and built to look like the houses surrounding them.
6 It is not considered appropriate to paint previously unpainted brick or masonry in the locally-designated districts.
7 Prefabricated outbuildings such as sheds are not permitted in the locally-designated districts.
False. Many prefabricated sheds are considered appropriate and can be used, although metal sheds and those with gambrel roofs ("dutch barn" style) are not.
8 Large trees may not be cut down in the locally-designated districts without permission from the HDC.
True. The tree canopies in the historic districts are an important character-defining feature of the neighborhoods. When the HDC grants permission to take down a mature tree, it often requires the homeowner to plant another one like it.
9 Major interior renovations require permission from the HDC to insure historical appropriateness.
False. Interior renovations are not regulated by HDC.
10 Chain-link fences are prohibited in the locally-designated districts.
False. Chain-link fences are permitted at the rear of houses, but not in front or side yards.
11 You must receive permission from the HDC when planting trees, shrubs, or hedges.
False. Plant away freely.
12 Historic buildings in the historic districts are protected from demolition.
False. If a property owner wishes to demolish a building, the HCD only has power to delay the demolition for 365 days.
13 The tight regulation in the locally-designated districts drives away investment.
False. Several studies have shown that property values in Greensboro's historic districts have risen at a faster rate than that of the city as a whole over the past 20 years.
14 The zoning restrictions in the locally-designated districts are more stringent than those in modern suburban developments.
False. Many things are permitted in the historic districts, such as chain-link fences, prefabricated outbuildings, and unregulated landscaping, which are prohibited or controlled by restrictive covenants in many new neighborhoods. In fact, in some new developments, the neighborhood association has the right to remove items from your property which the association considers unsightly or inappropriate; this is not true in the historic districts.
Furthermore, Greensboro's historic districts all contain a variety of zoning types, including single and multifamily residential, office, business, and retail. Most new developments are restricted to single-family housing, often with minimum square-footage requirements.
15 The people who live in the locally-designated districts are a little bit nutty.
True. But so are the people who don't.